How to Plan a Successful Virtual Summit


Table of contents
How to Plan a Successful Virtual Summit

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July 26, 2023



July 26, 2023


Table of contents
How to Plan a Successful Virtual Summit
July 26, 2023


July 26, 2023

In the digital age, virtual summits and conferences are becoming increasingly popular ways to unite people, share ideas, and drive business objectives. Unlike traditional in-person events, virtual meetings provide more flexibility, wider reach, and often cost savings for event organizers and attendees.

However, planning and executing a seamless virtual summit requires forethought, attention to detail and knowledge of best practices. This comprehensive guide covers key considerations and strategies for organizing a polished, professional, and productive virtual summit from start to finish. Whether you’re an experienced event planner or planning your first virtual summit, use these tips to create an impactful virtual event.

Defining Your Virtual Summit Strategy

The first step in planning any successful event is defining your strategy and objectives. Ask yourself the following key questions:

  • What are the goals of the virtual summit? Do you want to attract new customers, generate leads, build awareness, etc.?
  • Who is the target audience? Be as specific as possible.
  • What topics and themes will we cover? Brainstorm relevant, compelling content.
  • How long will the event be? Consider summit length and schedule.
  • What technology platforms will we use? Evaluate options like video conferencing tools, presentation software, etc.

Clear answers to these strategic questions will drive the rest of your planning and ensure your virtual summit stays on track.

Crafting a Clear, Compelling Theme

With your high-level strategy defined, start crafting a clear, compelling theme for your virtual summit. This theme summarizes what your event is about and gives attendees a peek into the topics and content covered.

Some examples of compelling virtual summit themes include:

  • The Future of Work Summit
  • Women in Leadership Virtual Summit
  • 365 Days of Wellness: A Virtual Experience

Your theme should quickly communicate your objectives, resonate with your target audience, and spark interest in the event. Use the theme prominently in your marketing materials, branding, and messaging.

Assembling Thought-Provoking Content and Speakers

The highlight of any summit is invariably the content delivered through presentations and speakers. Follow these best practices when planning your lineup:

  • Recruit a range of relevant, high-profile speakers. A mix of thought leaders, influencers, experts, customers, and partners provides valuable, diverse perspectives.
  • Align speakers and topics to your audience. Consider what your attendees will find educational and exciting.
  • Include interactive elements like panels, Q&A, and breakout discussions to encourage participation.
  • Schedule presentations wisely. Limit presentations to 30-45 minutes to maintain engagement. Allow time for breaks.
  • Confirm A/V needs ahead of time: test speaker tech setup and equipment well before go-live.
  • Help speakers prepare. Provide guidelines, advice, and promotion for their talks.
  • Create contingency plans in case of last-minute speaker cancellations or issues.

Securing the Proper Virtual Event Technology

A major key to executing a smooth virtual summit is selecting and properly utilizing the right event technology. Some top considerations include:

  • Video conferencing platform – An essential virtual event tool. Choose a reliable, enterprise-grade platform with robust features like Zoom, Cisco Webex, ON24, etc.
  • Presentation/screen sharing capabilities – Enable speakers to present slides, demos, and more.
  • Streaming and recording optionsLive stream sessions to amplify reach and record for post-event viewing.
  • Interactivity features – Polls, Q&A, chats, whiteboards, etc., to actively engage attendees.
  • Event management platform – All-in-one software for registration, attendee management, schedules, and more.
  • Trial runs – Thoroughly test all platforms, links, logins, A/V, and contingencies well in advance.

Pro Tip: Invest in providing speakers with professional virtual backgrounds to display behind them on video. This elevates production value.

Marketing Your Virtual Summit

A successful virtual summit requires an effective marketing strategy and compelling promotional tactics.

  • Create a marketing plan: set timeline, roles, and channels like email, social, advertising, PR, etc.
  • Leverage your speakers. Involve influencer speakers in co-promoting through their networks.
  • Develop strong branding and assets like logos, graphics, banners, email templates, etc. Tie to your theme.
  • Send targeted email campaigns with speaker spotlights, agenda sneak peeks, registration reminders, etc.
  • Promote on social media. Share speaker announcements, event teasers, and behind-the-scenes on all platforms.
  • Pitch media and reporters. Get your event included on industry event calendars, roundups, and sponsorships.
  • Network and get partners involved. Recruit sponsors, affiliated brands, local meetups, and alumni groups to help spread awareness.

The more buzz you generate in the months and weeks beforehand, the more registrants you’ll drive. Promote early and consistently across channels.

Planning Seamless Virtual Event Logistics

On the day of your virtual summit, even the most strategic planning can unravel without meticulous attention to logistics. Some key summit day success factors:

  • Send reminder emails to registered attendees with links, instructions, and agenda.
  • Open registration and log in early so attendees can test access and troubleshoot issues with plenty of time before you go live.
  • Have a detailed schedule and running order accessible to all speakers and staff. Include timing, transitions, and contingency plans.
  • Brief speakers and staff thoroughly. Confirm everyone understands their roles, positions, and talking points. Do dry runs.
  • Have dedicated tech support on standby to assist with any issues for speakers and attendees immediately.
  • Use an online event management command centre to oversee real-time operations during the summit.
  • Appoint a director/emcee to transition smoothly between sessions, engage audiences, and be the public face.

With rock-solid preparation and management, your virtual summit operations will appear seamless to attendees.

Analyzing Post-Event Data and Feedback

After your virtual summit concludes, gather data, solicit feedback, send surveys, and analyze the event’s performance. Key insights to extract:

  • Event registration and attendance rates
  • Attendee satisfaction scores and survey feedback
  • Session view counts and engagement metrics
  • Recording view metrics
  • Social media reach and interaction
  • Sponsorship ROI

Evaluating this data will reveal what worked well and what can be improved for your next virtual summit. Also, be sure to thank speakers, sponsors, partners, and attendees.


Well-executed virtual summits require extensive planning, promotion, preparation, and problem-solving. However, with the right strategy, content, technology, and operational excellence, virtual events can attract huge audiences, spark engaging discussions, and provide valuable experiences. Use the best practices outlined above to plan and promote a professional, polished virtual summit that leaves attendees informed, inspired, and eager to participate again.

With meticulous attention to objective setting, theming, programming, marketing, logistics, and follow-up analysis, your next virtual summit will surely be a success.


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